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Sting and The Sun

January 4, 2009

A pair of too-cute-for-words moments from yesterday:

We’re running Peter and the Wolf right now, a laser show of the musical version narrated by Sting. After one showing of it, a kid, probably 10 or 11, stopped in front of the control room and looked in the window at me. He said, “Were you the guy that was talking during the show?”

I chuckled and said, “No, that wasn’t me, it was Sting.”

He said, “Who’s that?”

I said, “Sting, the musician, he was in a band called ‘The Police.*’”

He furrowed his brow, looked around the control room and asked, “Is he back there with you?”

*******

Later, after the star show, a little girl, not more than 4 years old probably, came back with her dad. She started to ask me something, but then got shy (which happens lots… I must be intimidating or goofy-looking or something–scratch that, I know I‘m goofy-looking). She looked up at her dad and he said, “Go ahead!”

I asked her if she had a question, and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I was just wondering… What are all the stars’ jobs?”

It was one of those questions that sort of caught me off guard. Obviously, something in the show got it into her head that the stars have jobs, but getting the proper context from very young visitors can often be difficult, and I’m still not totally sure exactly what she meant by her question.

So, grasping for a teachable moment, I asked her if she knew that we have a star close to us here on Earth, and smartly (and cutely) she said, “It’s big and bright during the day–it’s the SUN!”

I told her that our sun has a very important job; it gives us heat and light, and also it’s so big that it holds our solar system together with its gravity.

Which then led into a heated philosophic debate over the strong vs. weak anthropic principle.

But seriously, a four year old understands what we mean when we say that the Sun’s job is to provide us with heat and light, but I would never put it that way to a visitor with the capability to get the real idea: the sun isn’t there because we need heat and light and gravity–we’re here because the Sun just happened to be providing heat and light and gravity.

I try not to anthropomorphize things when possible, but there are times you just can’t get around it in a museum setting.

*Nowadays touring under their alternate name, “Sting and the Other Guys.”

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